"I'm hearing some very good things that are starting to happen," she says.
After running divisions of General Cinema Corp. and Pepsi-Cola Bottlers of Akron, Rist formed her own management consulting firm, Norma J. Rist CEO Consulting. This spring, she was honored as one of the 2002 "Top 10 Women Business Owners of Northeast Ohio" by the National Association of Women Business Owners.
Here's what she's telling her clients they can do to maximize sales now, while preparing for a turnaround.
First, she says, create a pro-active plan.
"Prepare a budget that is built on realistic sales, your lowest core staff and reduced expenses," she says.
One way to cut expenses is to negotiate with suppliers to reduce their prices.
"If you don't ask for a lower price, you don't get a lower price," she says.
Next, she says, line up prospective employees to produce sales the moment you need them to.
"Identify new employees who you will offer a position to as soon as growth warrants the hire. Have them waiting in the wings," she says.
Now's the time to create a marketing plan you can implement as soon as you've turned the corner.
"Some people cut back on marketing, and they forget to put it in place when they really need it, which is two months before you turn the corner," she says.
At that time, there will be prospects looking for you who won't be able to find you if you aren't marketing your services to them.
She's also telling clients to "measure what matters." Don't just focus on monthly financials, but also look at the smaller reports on other aspects of your business. For instance, if delivery costs are a part of running your business, pull a report on how much revenue is generated per hour of delivery costs, not just on what those total costs are.
"Review the financials, and then look at up to 25 other reports that are important to run a tight ship. Those are the reports that many business owners are missing," she says.
And lastly, she says, if you're an owner, get more involved.
"This is the time to make sure all the departments are running the way they should be," she says. "You should get back in the game more like you were many years ago, because your leadership and inspiration during a difficult period can produce incredible results. Nobody can do what the owner can do." How to reach: Norma J. Rist CEO Consulting, (330) 865-5900